Coronavirus lockdown to continue in Scotland – Sturgeon

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has formally extended Scotland’s coronavirus lockdown.

By law, the social distancing measures across the UK have to be reviewed every three weeks.

However Ms Sturgeon said it was too soon to make meaningful changes without risking a resurgence of the virus.

The UK government is expected to make a similar announcement later, although Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to set out plans to ease lockdown on Sunday.

Ms Sturgeon said she was due to speak to Mr Johnson later on Thursday, and said she “will not be pressured into lifting restrictions prematurely, until I am as certain as I can be that we will not be risking a resurgence in infection rates”.

She said her preference was for the four nations of the UK to move together, but said any decisions “must be taken with great care” that she would “continue to err on the side of caution”.

Earlier in the day, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman told Holyrood’s health committee that the infection rate in Scotland remained too high to give much room for manoeuvre.

Ms Sturgeon said it was thought the infection rate in Scotland “might still be higher than in other parts of the UK”, possibly reflecting the fact that the first cases of Covid-19 north of the border came later than in England.

She said: “Extreme caution is required at this critical juncture to avoid a rapid resurgence of the virus.

“It is not an exaggeration to say decisions now are a matter of life and death.”

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The extension moves the next point at which the lockdown must legally be reviewed ahead by three weeks, but Ms Sturgeon noted that “we can make changes to regulations before then if the evidence suggests it is safe to do so”.

The Scottish government has published a paper of options for starting to lift restrictions – but warned that “extreme caution” will have to be exercised.

Ms Sturgeon said she “may be prepared to agree to a change to guidance limiting outdoor exercise to once a day only”, as it has been rumoured is being considered by UK ministers.

However she said this “would not change the overall message” that people should remain close to home and not mix with other households.

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